In the run-up to the London Olympics and Paralympic games, Simon Corden from Walsall volunteered in Rwanda with VSO, supporting the National Paralympic Committee to help promote a more positive image of disability.
VSO storygatherer Vishva Sodhi visits rural Ethiopia, where she meets VSO volunteer Patricia Gilhooley. How is creativity making a difference in primary schools there?
Well, in amongst all the usual stuff we do for VSO as a supporter group – talking to schools, colleges and universities – meeting together to discuss plans and the occasional social and meal together, Anne, our Chair, came up with this crazy idea for hiring part of Lincoln City Centre, trying to make some sort of a big splash and have some impact in our locality. With the launch of the recent fundraising campaign by VSO UK, Taste the World, we thought we could combine both of them and make it a global food extravaganza...
Is it possible to volunteer with VSO as a family with dependent children? We do have a small number of families who volunteer, but there is a lot to think about. Whether it’s possible will depend on the usual professional and practical factors for other volunteers – you’ll need the skills our partners request, for the time period they ask for – with extra personal considerations thrown in.
In the past volunteering might have been seen as a transfer of skills and knowledge in a single direction: (from volunteer to people they work with). But we see the learning process as far more two-way, with volunteers and the people they work with learning from each other.
Cambodia, where I am presently volunteering, is a truly complex place. The countryside is breathtaking, vivid green against deep red earth. And the people who tirelessly work it must be among the kindest and most gentle you could hope to meet.